We got the chance to discuss Spore with industry veteran Lucy Bradshaw, Spore's executive producer. Bradshaw has worked on everything from LucasArts' Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991) to Electronic Arts' Command & Conquer Generals (2003), but she is best known for her work leading the teams responsible for blockbusters like SimCity 3000, SimCity 4, and the 100-million-selling The Sims franchise.
PC World: How would you describe Spore to a casual gamer who's never heard of it?
Lucy Bradshaw: It's kind of hybrid software toy, really. We give you a universe in a box, and you get to create your own little cellular organism and then be involved in every step of its evolution, from its life as a single creature through a Tribal Stage where you're multiplying, all the way to a point where you can take your very own species into space and conquer the galaxy.
PCW: The game's officially finished and comes out September 7th, which is Sunday. What are you doing to get ready?
LB: It's obviously a pretty exciting time for the studio. First of all, there's just a wonderful feeling when you actually get a big project like this to gold [status]. And that's a big push because you have to really think scope, work on the polish, and make some pretty big choices during those last few stages of game play. So the team is feeling really good about the level of polish we were able to bring to the final product.
That said, some of the technology we built into Spore, we're only now beginning to take advantage of. So there's been a lot of stuff percolating about where we go from here, and we're playing with some of those ideas. Part of it's getting ready for where we might take the franchise next. Teams are kind of forming around different concepts and asking questions like "Should we exercise the procedural animation in a slightly different way?" or taking a second look at how we built in texturing and where we might go with that.
Some of the graphics engine capabilities, particularly with the effects systems that we built, are things we can now explore and take in different directions. We've always thought what we were doing was building an engine we'd keep playing with after we shipped the core product.
Something that's already driving us, for example, is the activity in the Sporepedia. I think we actually got to more than 3 million creatures last week, and people have been seeing that number just soar. So it's watching the amazing creativity of players and where they're taking some of the content already, making creatures that look like vehicles or that look like real-world creatures, that's influencing what we do next. I can't wait to see what players do when they get their hands on the Building Creator or the Vehicle Creator. You know, spaceships and everything.